Colorado Rockies’ infielder Ian Desmond won’t get any at-bats this year, but he hit a home run with an Instagram post that explains why he plans to miss the 2020 baseball season.
As Major League Baseball inches closer toward finally kicking off its (now very shortened) schedule, a number of notable big leaguers have indicated that they will be sitting this one out. Some are doing it out of an abundance of caution as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the country. Desmond, on the other hand, announced that he’ll be staying home in 2020 for very different reasons.
In an Instagram post that quickly went viral, the two-time All-Star went into detail about his the difficult experiences he faced while growing up biracial, the racism that still plagues professional (and amateur) baseball, and the inequality that continues to hold back and inflict lifelong trauma on people of color.
The nine-page post offers an unblinkingly honest portrait of a Black man at a professional and emotional crossroads. Amongst other topics, Desmond discusses the troubling state of youth baseball in his hometown of Sarasota, the 2018 death of a young ballplayer that continues to haunt him, national turmoil, and his responsibility as a father.
Major League Baseball’s rosters and front offices feature disturbingly few Black people, a disparity that Desmond blames on a number of cultural factors. Baseball’s rigor mortis-like grip on an outdated code of conduct fashioned by old white conservatives turn off athletes of color, Desmond says, while the opportunities to play the game from childhood are also remarkably unequal.
“Why can’t we support teaching the game to all kids — but especially those in underprivileged communities?” Desmond writes in his post. “Why aren’t accessible, affordable youth sports viewed as an essential opportunity to affect kids’ development, as opposed to money-making propositions and recruiting chances? It’s hard to wrap your head around it.”
Instead of playing the Major League season, Desmond will instead help redevelop his hometown’s neglected youth baseball scene while providing all the guidance he can to his four children and helping his pregnant wife as they await their fifth.
“With a pregnant wife and four young children who have lots of questions about what’s going on in the world, home is where I need to be right now,” he concludes. “Home for my wife, Chelsey. Home to help. Home to guide. Home to answer my older three boys’ questions about Coronavirus and Civil Rights and life. Home to be their Dad.”